Quartz vs Mechanical

by Javier Arranz

We’ve all been there. Our new watch arrives and we all excited run to set the time and put it on our wrist as soon as possible. But wait, my watch doesn’t tick! It might be because the provider didn’t put a battery in it, but most of the times, it’s because you are the (I hope) proud owner of a mechanical watch!

Okay, now I know my watch is “mechanical”, but what in hell does that mean? That means that your watch isn’t powered by any kind of battery or electricty, it is powered by the energy that is carefully stored in the wound spring (mainspring). Still sounding like chinese? Don’t worry, we got you!

  • Quartz Watches

Your average and most common watch, and the watch that got all of us interested in watches. Powered by a battery that need periodic replacement to keep working (most of the times, depending of the battery tipe, around 2-3 years). But don’t get me wrong, this watches are (in one way, and just one way) better than mechanical timepieces: they keep excellent time.

These movements are usually on the more affordable side, mostly mass produced and with minimal craftmanship (seiko-fanatics, I see you, we will talk about Spring Drive in another time). This type of powered watches started to be produced during the Quartz Crisis during the 70’s.

  • Mechanical watches

When we’re talking about mechanical watches, we are talking about watches powered by energy slowly released by a spring, and this implies some part-movement inside of the watch. Altough they might seem the same for new collectors, manual-wind and automatic calibers are not the same.

  •  Manual Wind movements
Resultado de imagen de quartz watch movement

Manual wind caliber. Source: Henrysfinejewelery

We say that a manual wind caliber is the one that needs the active human action to provide energy to the watch. The way of doing this? Rotating the crown clock-wise. This action is called “winding”. This process is simple, but we have to take care when doing it. Most modern watches have a mechanism by which you can’t overwind the watch, you will feel a stop when winding it and if you continue and force it, you break it. Be careful with vintage watches, as not all of them have this mechanism! You will feel that the crown starts to resist itself from winding more, making it harder to turn. When you feel that, stop winding!

  • Automatic movements

We’ve all heard that story, the existance of watches that work through our PULSE! Maybe you heard it from your grandparents, or even parents, but that is a totally misconception. An automatic caliber, altough very similar to a manual wound one, it winds itself through a rotating plate, commonly called rotor, that (most of the times) is on top of the movement and it’s visible. This plate rotates around itself to generate power, that is stored on the mainspring. These watches can be also wound the “traditional” way, by turning the crown clockwise, but most of their benefits is that you don’t have to worry about your watch stopping in the middle of the day or winding it every morning, because it “charges” itself with your movement.

Resultado de imagen de automatic watch movement

Automatic watch caliber. The rotor is the golden semicircle. Source: Quora


Now you know what are the different types of watch movements, so don’t let yourself be fooled again!

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